SYRACUSE -- Gov. Gary Herbert learned firsthand Wednesday morning how dual language immersion programs are working in Davis School District.
Herbert and his staff visited three classes at Syracuse Elementary School, where Mandarin Chinese is taught to 170 of the school's 981 students.
Herbert's goal is to have the program offered to 30,000 students in 100 schools across the state by 2014.
"We are a global economy," Herbert said. "The ability to communicate will mean economic success."
Currently, 57 schools statewide offer the program in either Chinese, French or Spanish.
The school offers Chinese to students in kindergarten through second grade in a typical dual immersion program where students divide their time between English and a second language to learn academics.
Chinese is offered in four schools in Davis district. In Utah, 31 schools offer dual immersion programs in Spanish, 17 in Mandarin Chinese and nine in French.
The Syracuse students are among 9,000 students in Utah learning a second language in elementary school immersion programs. Students in the Chinese program speak the language and learn to write and read the Chinese characters.
Herbert listened to Josh Law's kindergartners count and repeat the colors in Chinese. Law, like other teachers in the dual immersion program, speaks only Chinese to his students as he teaches them.
Herbert then moved to Shu Mei Chen's first-grade class, where he participated in a balloon-blowing contest with Tyley Iverson as the students learned addition and subtraction, all in Chinese.
The final stop was Grace Lee's second-grade class. Students used colored word strips with Chinese words to create sentences.
Jenny Jensen has two children in the program -- Daphne, a first-grader, and Gauge, a second-grader. She was at the school as a volunteer Wednesday.
"I wanted my children to experience a new culture, and this was the easiest way," Jensen said about why she enrolled them in the program.
Jensen said her children speak to each other in Chinese at home and sometimes forget she doesn't understand them.
Law teaches in Chinese to 28 students in the morning and 28 in the afternoon. The first and second grades also each have 56 students in the program, said Principal Sue Caldwell.
Students who are in second grade will be in the program next year as third-graders, said Davis County School Superintendent Bryan Bowles.